The European Union has given Google a couple of weeks to finally respond to allegations that it keeps abusing its dominant market position. Rivals have accused the Internet giant of unfair competition practices.
European Union antitrust chiefs on Monday asked US Internet company Google to come up with suggestion that would help to rebut charges of unfair competition. For several years now, Google has been accused by rivals of abusing its market position as Internet search king.
"If Google comes up with remedies within a matter of weeks, the EU will negotiate instead of having to pursue proceedings and imposing fines," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told reporters in Brussels on Monday.
Almunia said an antitrust probe launched in 2010 identified areas of significant concern to the European Commission. It cited signs of preferential treatment in the hierarchical presentation of search results and doubts over Google's full respect of copyrights. There was also criticism of restrictions written into advertising contracts.
Fast solution wanted
EU antitrust bodies spent a decade fighting with Microsoft in a series of related cases, but now looked eager to reach a quicker negotiated outcome. The prospects of that happening appeared to remains slim, though, on Monday as Google said it wasn't aware of any wrongdoing.
"We disagree with the conclusions of the probe, but we're happy to discuss any concerns the EU might have, Google's Brussels-based spokesman Al Verney said in a statement." Competition on the web has increased dramatically in the last two years since the Commission started looking at this," Verney added.
But no matter whether a deal is struck soon or not, Google is bound to remain under EU scrutiny on other competition issues. Antitrust officials are also looking into allegations by rivals about being shut off from Google's mobile phone operating system Android.
hg/gb (AFP, dpa)